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Bull - Bull( Blu Ray) [Second Sight Films - 2022]

Bull is a tensely unfurling British revenge thriller, which is shot through with moments of jarringly extreme violence and gore, grittily charismatic acting, and a neat enough dark twist in its tail.  It charts the return of brutally unhinged gangster henchmen Bull after a ten-year absence- he's played with real emotionally unpredictable flair by Neil Maskell (Kill List, Utopia, etc)- who’s surrounded by a great cast of grittily dodgy ‘n’ tough character actors. Here following on from its digitally streamed release early this year,  is a very much-deserved Blu-Ray release from the folks at Second Sight. The limited-edition Blu-ray comes presented in a rigid case with a soft-cover book with new writing about the film. On the disc extras, we get a new audio commentary from the director & lead actor, as well as a few interviews with the crew.

Made in 2021 Bull was written and directed by Portsmouth-born Paul Andrew Williams- who in the past had helmed the likes of horror crime comedy The Cottage (2008), and nasty house invasion horror-thriller Cherry Tree Lane (2010).  Bull is a tight ‘n’ taut thriller, set in and around shadowy council estates, fun fairs, rundown caravans, greasy spoons, and glum daytime bars- as the rain often pours down.

The film begins with a group of men burning and then burying something in a night-time field. After this, we meet the bearded and grimly laid-back Bull (Maskell), as he jumps out of car in a city street to gun down a man, with little or no feeling. As things unfold, we flash back and forth between the past, and the present- in the past, we see Bull is in a troubled relationship with an on/off junky- who’s the daughter of his ageing- but hard-as-nails boss Norm (David Hayman). The only thing positive to come out of their relationship is his eleven or so-year-old son Aiden (Henri Charles), also in the past are repeated images of a burning caravan.

In the present Bull is carrying out extremely brutal revenge on his gang mates- this takes in gaffer taped down stabbings, gruelling flesh slashing, and even unexpected limbs hacked into or lopped off. Maskel plays the lead/ title role with real intensity, yet he also shows moments of love and care for his young son- making him a more rounded, and believable character- than just a soulless killing machine.

The surrounding cast is very strong and believable too, with the backdrop of grimy, gritty, to shadowy Britain very well realized. The film comes in a nicely tight ‘n’ taut eighty-eight minutes- with the tension and edge always kept in firm place throughout. 

All in all, Bull is one of the more brutal, yet wholly compelling British thriller to appear in some time…..and since first seeing the film on its digital release early this year, I must say it still remains an impactful, brutally harrowing, and tensely engaging watch.

This new region B Blu-ray release features a great print- which enhances both it’s grit, English glumness, and jarring brutality. Moving onto the extras we get a commentary track from writer/director Paul Andrew Williams and lead actor Neil Maskell- and this is most worthy/ interesting. They begin talking about the opening shot was always meant to be the way it was, and that it took a few takes to get just right. We get comment on the opening credits and talk about the street the first after-credits scene was filmed, which was by coincidence where Maskell caught the bus as a child along the road. We’re informed the fun fair footage was captured at Barry Island over a few days, around the point the covid lockdown was easing back- and been hassled by police helicopters. We find out there was very little improv in the film, and they see it as a meeting of western revenge tropes & social realism. We find out the director's son played one of the young teens in the film, and how the film was cast made up of both actors and friends of the director. They talk about the film's low budget, and how they got the most of this. We get an explanation of how some of the effects were done. Later on, we get talk about Maskell working with his onscreen son,  how the film's wardrobe was subtle/ but effective in its layers. We find out some of the child actors were difficult to work with, and some great memories of shooting/ set-ups. An excellent/ most engaging track.
Otherwise, on disc extras we get a series of on-screen interviews- these take in Kindness and Rage(13.40) with Director Paul Andrew Williams. Funfairs, Abattoirs and Burning Caravans(15.01)with Producer Dominic Tighe. Dealing with Fear(6.18) with Producer Leonora Darby.

The release's packaging features a rigid slipcase with new artwork by James Neal, with a soft cover book taking in new essays by Andrew Graves, Elena Lazic & Megan Navarro, and six collectors' art cards. So another very classy bit of presentation from Second Sight.

If you enjoy bloody, and tensely unfolding thrillers Bull is a must-watch!. It really is wonderful to see the film getting a physical upgrade after its streamed release- as it stands as one of the great ‘n’ gritty modern revenge films. With this Second Sight release featuring some most worthwhile extras, and a great presentation/ packing- I’m so impressed/ taken by this release that I’m upping my original score from a four to a five, as this is a wonderful presentation of this wonderful intense, brutal, yet at points oddly moving British film.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Roger Batty
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